Sunday, April 4, 2021

The Empty Tomb- Illuminated Manuscripts

British Library - Royal 19 A XXII fol-16 The Empty Tomb Resurrection, detail actually showing a garden
British Library - Harley 4328 fol-410 The Empty Tomb Resurrection
The Gospel of John 20 contains a narrative of an empty garden tomb including the appearance of Jesus:   
The Empty Tomb
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 

So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

In Christianity, the tomb of Jesus was found to be empty by the women who had come to anoint his body with spices & by pouring oils over it.  The empty tomb points to Jesus' resurrection, implicitly in the early Gospel of Mark & explicitly in the gospel narratives of Matthew, Luke & John. 

British Library - Add. MS 7170, fol-160 (detail) 1b - Syriac Lectionary Mosul (Iraq), 1216-1220 The Holy Women at the Empty Tomb - The Resurrection

For some people of antiquity, empty tombs were seen as signs of the dead person bodily entering heaven. In Chariton’s ancient Greek novel Callirhoe, the hero Chaereas finds his wife’s tomb empty & immediately assumes the gods took her. In Ancient Greek thinking, there are numerous examples of individuals conspiring, before their deaths, to have their remains hidden in order to promote postmortem veneration. Arrian wrote of Alexander the Great planning his own bodily disappearance, so that he would be revered as a god. Disappearances of individuals to the divine realm also occur in Jewish literature, but do not involve an empty tomb.

British Library - Additional 35254D-F fol-D The Empty Tomb - The Resurrection

A site in Jerusalem now called The Garden Tomb was unearthed in 1867 & is considered by some Christians to be the site of the burial & resurrection of Jesus. The tomb has been dated by prominent Israeli archaeologist Gabriel Barkay to the 8–7C BC. However, the re-use of old tombs was common practice in ancient burial rituals. The Garden Tomb is adjacent to a rocky escarpment which since the mid-19C has been proposed by some scholars to be Golgotha. The traditional site where the death & resurrection of Christ are believed to have occurred has been the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at least since the 4C.

British Library - Lansdowne 383 fol-13 Holy Women at the Empty Tomb
British Library - Royal 20 B IV fol-142 The Maries at the Empty Tomb
The St Albans Psalter, owned by St Godehard's Church, Hildesheim now at University of Aberdeen, Scotland Maries at the empty Tomb of Jesus.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Easter - Preparing to Anoint Christ's Body

The Three Marys by Michael  Wolgemut or Wolgemuth (German 1434-1519) 

Biblical Holy Women associated with Christ's Resurrection buying anointing spices from merchant in the “Egmont Breviary.” New York, Morgan Library (M.87, fol. 202v). Utrecht, c. 1440.  The Marys buying ointment at the ointment shop.  Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome had bought sweet spices, that they might come to the tomb to anoint him.  The Gospel of Mark has this happening on the Saturday evening. The author of Matthew may have copied the wording from the Saturday spice buying & combined it with their visit to the tomb, creating the ambiguity in the timing.

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. Matthew 28:1
The Lamentation of Christ by Simon Marmion (French, 1425-1489) c 1473  The Met tells us that the lifeless body of Christ rests in his mother's lap, his torso supported by Joseph of Arimathea & Nicodemus. Just behind, and somewhat apart from the Virgin, Saint John the Evangelist kneels in prayer. Mary Magdalen & a female companion express their quiet grief at far left. Essentially a Pietà in concept, this image of mourning foregrounds Christ's limp body, reminding the viewer that his sacrifice makes possible mankind's salvation through the celebration of the Eucharist. The drooping poppy at bottom left symbolizes sleep and death.

This man [Joseph of Arimathea] went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. … It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning.  The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid.  Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.  On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment. 
Luke 23
Wall mosaic of entombment of Jesus near Stone of anointing at Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

By the Jewish calendar, the new day begins at sundown, thus the beginning of the day would have been Saturday evening. One debate over this verse is what it says about the time of the visit, & thus the resurrection. The 3 other gospels & the current Christian tradition, have the empty tomb discovered the day after Sabbath, today known as Easter Sunday. This verse actually contains 2 time indicators. The 1st can be translated as "late on Sabbath" and the 2nd as "at the beginning of the first day of the week." It literally translates as dawning of the day, but as at Luke 23:54 this term can also refer to the time at sundown as the beginning of night. Thus the verse can be read as describing the resurrection as happening on Saturday rather than Sunday.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Easter - Good Friday - The Holy Women by Hans Memling (1435-1494)

Hans Memling (German-born Flemish painter, 1435-1494) The Holy Women, right hand panel of the Granada Deposition Diptych
Hans Memling (German-born Flemish painter, 1435-1494) The Mourning Virgin

Good Friday - Illuminated Manuscripts

Crucifixion of Christ. British Library Royal 15 DI.f.353. Guyart des Moulins.La Bible Historiale, part 4 (Bible Historiale of Edward IV) Netherlands, S. (Bruges)1470 and c.1479. French.

In the Christian Bible, Good Friday marks the day on which Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross for the sins of the the people of the world. Good Friday is a day of mourning and sorrow over the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. It's also a day of gratitude for the supreme sacrifice that he made.
Missal and Book of Hours, Lombardy ca. 1385-1390 (Paris, BnF, Latin 757, fol. 79r)
Prayer Book (Use of Rome), Entombment, Walters Manuscript W.438, fol. 354vb11

Good Friday - Giotto 1267-1337

Good Friday marks the day that the Bible explains that Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross for the sins of the the people of the world. Good Friday is a day of mourning and sorrow over the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. It's also a day of gratitude for the supreme sacrifice, that he made.
1305  Giotto di Bondone (Florentine painter, c 1267-1337). The Crucifixion
1303 Giotto di Bondone (Florentine painter, c 1267-1337). The Lamentation

Good Friday - 1460 - Crown of Thorns

Lucas Cranach the Elder (German Northern Renaissance Painter, 1472-1553) Christ Crowned with Thorns c 1510
Unknown Flemish painter, Jesus
Petrus Christus (Netherlandish painter, active c 1444–1476 Bruges)  Head of Christ c 1445
1460-75. Philadelphia Museum of Art Christ Crowned with Thorns. Artist unknown, Austrian

In the Christian religion, Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. As early as the 1C, the Christian church set aside every Friday as a special day of prayer and fasting. It was not until the 4C, however, that Christians began observing the Friday before Easter as the day associated with the crucifixion of Christ. Good Friday is the most solemn day in the Christian calendar.  First called Holy or Great Friday by the Greek Church, the name "Good Friday" was adopted by the Roman Church around the 6C or 7C.

There are two possible origins for the name "Good Friday". The first may have come from the Gallican Church in Gaul (modern-day France and Germany). The name "Gute Freitag" is Germanic in origin and literally means "good" or "holy" Friday. The 2nd possibility is a variation on the name "God's Friday," where the word "good" was used to replace the word "God," which was often viewed as too holy to be spoken aloud.

Good Friday rituals and traditions are somber. To many Christians, Good Friday is a day of sorrow mingled with hope, a time to grieve for mankind's failings and for the suffering of Jesus and to meditate upon the ultimate redemption of loving and of forgiving ourselves and others.

Good Friday - Duccio 1255-1319

1308-11 Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1319)  (Italian artist, 1255-1319) Jesus Accused by the Pharisees
1308-11 Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1319)  (Italian artist, 1255-1319) The Flagellation

Good Friday marks the day on which Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross for the sins of the the people of the world. Some believe that its name was originally God's Friday, which, over the years, became its present name. Good Friday is a day of mourning and sorrow over the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. It's also a day of gratitude for the supreme sacrifice that he made.
1308-11 Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1319)  (Italian artist, 1255-1319) Crown of Thorns
1308-11 Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1319)  (Italian artist, 1255-1319) The Carrying of the Cross
1308-11 Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1319)  (Italian artist, 1255-1319) Deposition

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Betrayal of Christ at Gethsemane

1445 Bartolomeo di Tommaso (Italian, Umbrian, active by 1425, died 1453) The Betrayal of Christ

Maundy Thursday -The Last Supper

1308-11 Duccio di Buoninsegna (Italian artist, 1255-1319) Washing of the Feet

Maundy Thursday refers to Jesus as a servant and calld for his followers to do the same. It also draws a connection between the Passover sacrifice, a Jewish tradition, & the imminent sacrifice of Jesus. The night before Jesus was crucified, he had a Passover supper with his disciples. (Passover is a Jewish holy day that celebrates God's deliverance of the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt.) After supper, Jesus knew that this would be his final opportunity to instruct his disciples before the crucifixion, so he talked at length about his purposes, what his followers should do in response, and the promise of the Holy Spirit to come. He then washed his disciples' feet in a demonstration of humility and servant-hood. Finally, he gave bread and wine to his disciples and asked them to partake of it in remembrance of him. The act of partaking bread and wine is called Communion (or the Last Supper) today. 

The word Maundy (pronounced mawn-dee) comes from the Latin word mandatum, which means "command." The command that this holy day refers to is the one that Jesus gave to his disciples during the Last Supper: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just like I have loved you; that you also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. — John 13:34–35

The last meal Jesus shared with His disciples was the Passover meal. Jesus was the host: he washed the feet of His followers, & served them at the table. He broke bread with His betrayer, Judas; With His denier, Peter; with the "friends," who would sleep when He needed comfort & run, as he was facing death. Yet Jesus still ate with them, Prayed with them, sang a hymn with them. That meal Jesus over and gave them a new command:  "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. "
1308-11 Duccio di Buoninsegna (Italian artist, 1255-1319) The Last Supper

Jesus in The Garden of Gethsemane - Illuminated Manuscripts

1599-25 Agony in the garden Simon Bening (1483-1561)  or follower From a Book of Hours (use of Rome) of Southern Netherlands (Den Haag, MMW, 10 E 3). Passion according to St. John with only a hint of tiny blossoms.

According to all the Gospels, immediately after the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, Jesus took a walk to pray. Each Gospel offers a slightly different account regarding narrative details. The gospels of Matthew & Mark identify this place of prayer as Gethsemane. Jesus was accompanied by 3 Apostles: Peter, John & James, whom he asked to stay awake & pray. He moved "a stone's throw away" from them, where He felt overwhelming sadness & anguish, & said "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.Then, a little while later, He said, "If this cup cannot pass by, but I must drink it, your will be done!" (Matthew 26:42). He said this prayer 3x, checking on the 3 apostles between each prayer & finding them asleep. He commented: "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." An angel came from heaven to strengthen him. During his agony in the garden, he prayed, "his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground." ( Luke 22:44).

From Illuminated Manuscripts -
1270 Manuscript Leaf with the Agony in the Garden from a Royal Psalter
Illuminated Manuscript, Book of Hours in Dutch, Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, Walters Manuscript W.918, fol. 104v
Prayer Book, including Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, Walters Manuscript W.164, fol. 15v
Garden of Gethsemane Hennessy Book of Hours - miniaturist Simon Benning - Flanders, 1530-1540
Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Rosenwald-Book Of Hours

The garden at Gethsemane, a place whose name literally means oil press, is located on a slope of the Mount of Olives just across the Kidron Valley from Jerusalem. A garden of ancient olive trees stands there to this day. Gethsemane is most famous as the place where Jesus prayed & his disciples slept the night before Jesus' crucifixion. According to the New Testament it was a place that Jesus & his disciples customarily visited, which allowed Judas to find him on the night of his arrest. Gethsemane appears in Matthew (26:36) & Mark (14:32). The Gospel of John says Jesus frequently went to Gethsemane with His disciples to pray (John 18:2). In the Bible at John 18:1l “When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which He entered, and His disciples.” From other scriptures, such as, Matthew 26:36 we know that this garden was called “Gethsemane.”

Maundy Thursday - The Last Supper

The Last Supper, about 1030–40, Unknown. J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. Ludwig VII 1, fol. 38

Maundy Thursday - The Last Supper

The Last Supper, about 1475, Unknown.  J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. Ludwig XIII 5, v2, fol. 172

Maundy Thursday - The Last Supper

The Last Supper about 1400–10, J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 33, fol. 286v

Near the end of the Last Supper, Christ said to His disciples, "A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another."

During the Last Supper, Jesus washed his disciples' feet. In England, this act was adopted politically as a way of reminding rulers, that they are here to serve their subjects, until 1689. Up until then the King or Queen would wash the feet of the poor on Maundy Thursday in Westminster Abbey.  Throughout the 17C & earlier, the King or Queen would wash the feet of the selected poor people as a gesture of humility in remembrance of Jesus' washing the feet of the disciples. The ceremony originated in the Roman Catholic Church inspired by the events that occurred during the night Jesus observed the Passover with his disciples. The symbolic washing of feet, which was begun around the 4C, involved a bishop or cardinal washing the feet of the priests & acolytes. While in Rome, the Pope would wash the feet of selected Cardinals. This was seen as fulfilling the mandate, that the greatest among the brethren will be the servant of all.

Maundy Thursday - The Last Supper

 The Last Supper, about 1525–30, Simon Bening.  J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. Ludwig IX 19, fol. 83v

Maundy Thursday - The Last Supper

1325 Ugolino da Siena (Italian, Sienese, active 1315–30s) The Last Supper

Francesco Bassano the Younger (1563-1570) Last Supper